At the outset of this year, we published an interview with indie-rock luminaries Yo La Tengo announcing There’s A Riot Going On, their fifteenth album and first collection of original material in five years. Today, that album has arrived. Count yourself blessed.
Yo La Tengo have always brought an adventurous, ecumenical spirit to their songwriting. On any given record, the longtime lineup of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew is liable to veer from exhilarating fuzz-pop to gorgeous whispery intimacy at a moment’s notice, shifting shape from track to track as if they’ve raided the racks at their favorite vinyl shop and funneled the full spectrum of sounds into their unique aesthetic. That ethos remains intact, but as they’ve gotten older, the band’s softer side has taken precedence more often, which is how they ended up with an album called There’s A Riot Going On that sounds so gorgeously placid.
For an album named after Sly & The Family Stone’s raucous psychedelic funk state of the union — and released at arguably America’s most politically volatile moment since that album’s 1971 debut — the new Yo La Tengo is counterintuitively one of their most impressionistic offerings. It’s an LP on which the gently propulsive early single “For You Too“”>For You Too” represents the height of aggression. As Kaplan explained to us, the title is “a direct reflection of the record,” one that’s “not meant ironically or humorously in any way unlike some of the other ones.” He continued, “The title is obviously so loaded, and I think it has this in common with other titles that we’ve had, is that it is evocative and hopefully it will encourage people to wonder why it’s called that.”
So why not do just that? Spend some time letting Yo La Tengo’s liquid indie-pop wash over you and try to make sense of this legendary band’s latest visionary dispatch.
There’s A Riot Going On is out now on Matador.